Journeying into God’s Merciful Love – The Temple Area

Week of March 13, 2016

This weekend we find Jesus in the temple area.  It is where we expect to meet Him.  He is there as He always is.  His real presence is teaching those who will listen.  In the temple area there is also found those who gather in prayer and who long to be justified.  The Pharisees bring in a woman who is caught in sin.  They long to be justified.  They long to prove they are holy and God-fearing.  They long to see themselves as better than others. Jesus continues to teach His Gospel of love by freeing the woman of her sin.

In the temple area we must ask ourselves, for what do we pray?  We must ask, what is the starting point of our prayer?  As we look around the assembly who gathers, what are we thinking?  The challenge in this week of Lent is to realize the temple area is a place where we are to come face to face with our sin.  It is here we are to end the judgments we make on others.  Whether someone sits in the back or comes in late, we are all equal in the eyes of God’s love.  Whether we are always sitting in the same place or move around, we are all loved.  Do we feel justified because we come here, even though many do not?   Do we look down on our neighbors who do not go to church?  Do we use our presence here as justification for who we are and how we feel about ourselves?  It can become a place of self-aggrandizement.  In the temple area, Jesus levels the playing field and announces compassion and forgiveness.  In the temple area, we learn what Jesus is teaching, not just by word, but by action.  It will be in the temple area that the people who were quick to condemn are also condemned by their actions.  The temple area invites us to a new teaching.

Jesus longs for compassion.  He longs for us to love one another as we have been loved.  He longs for us to treat others how we ourselves would like to be treated.  In the temple area, we are invited to go deep and reflect on how we treat others.  Sometimes we pass them by so fast without even an acknowledgment.  Sometimes we want to point out their faults.  Sometimes we long to feel better than others and in our hearts point that out to ourselves.

It is into this temple area that we are invited to meet the real Jesus.  He looks with compassion on each—whether we are the one whose faults are being pointed out by others or we are the one who is doing the fault finding.  Jesus does not yell and tell anyone to stop harming this woman.  He quietly gets down near the ground, does not call out the faults of others, but simply writes down phrases.  He treats all with the same compassion.  They choose to leave one by one.  They choose to see that their ways are not God’s ways.  They come to realize in their own way that they too are in need of compassion.  Jesus never uses His voice to condemn them, even if we can see that they were wrong in doing this.  He treats them like He treats us, with compassion.

No matter how we come through the doors to the temple area, Jesus is here to teach us.  Jesus is here with His compassionate love.  Jesus is here to remind us we all need forgiving.

Come to the temple area and receive….

Rev. John J. Ouper